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Lance Leipold Agrees to Contract to Become Kansas Head Football Coach

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold works the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Penn State  in State College, Pa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

University at Buffalo head football coach Lance Leipold has agreed to a contract to take over the same role at the University of Kansas, the school announced Friday.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel first reported Friday the deal has been "finalized" for Leipold to replace Les Miles. The other finalists were Army's Jeff Monken, Louisiana Tech's Skip Holtz and Texas A&M's Mike Elko.

The hire marks the second time in 11 years Kansas has turned to Buffalo in the hope of revitalizing its football program. The Jayhawks brought in Turner Gill, who'd led the Bulls to the 2008 MAC title, in 2010. He posted a 5-19 record across two seasons at KU.

Leipold's tenure in Buffalo can be viewed through a couple different lenses.

On one hand, he rebuilt the Bulls into a consistent contender in the MAC after the program had struggled to remain competitive after Gill's departure. UB compiled a 37-33 record during his six seasons, including a 24-10 mark over the past three years.

Yet it felt like Buffalo should have accomplished more in recent seasons.

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The Bulls blew a 29-10 second-half lead in the 2018 MAC Championship Game against Northern Illinois and gave up 28 second-half points in a bowl loss to Troy that year.

UB fell short of the MAC title game in 2019 and laid an egg with the conference championship on the line in December, losing 38-28 to Ball State after entering the contest as an undefeated 12.5-point favorite.

To Leipold's credit, the Bulls did win their bowl games the past two seasons.

Before his time in Buffalo, the 56-year-old Wisconsin native guided Division III program Wisconsin-Whitewater to an eye-popping 109-6 record with six national titles in eight years.

In 2019, ESPN ranked Leipold as the 78th-best coach in the 150-year history of college football based mostly on his unprecedented success at the D-III level.

Now Leipold is tasked with turning around a Kansas program that hasn't posted a winning record since 2008. The team's last four coaches—Gill, Miles, Charlie Weis and David Beaty—all failed to win more than three games in a season.

The Jayhawks open the 2021 campaign Sept. 4 when they host South Dakota at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.